Greetings from Provo

23 Mar

After a hectic final few days at the center, I finally made it to spring break in Provo ! The last three or four days leading up to the break were full of presentations and data collections for a conch assessment assignment and a seagrass and sea urchin project. On Monday my group presented an assessment of the Cox Hotel from the standpoint of analysts representing an ecotourism firm, and on Wednesday about half of us went out into the field to find and kill lionfish, an invasive species that is devastating the ecosystem of the Caribbean. I was particularly excited about the lionfish exercise because a) it is exactly the type of work I am going to be doing for my DR project in a few short weeks, so it was nice to get some practice in and b) because there was no data collection involved, so we were allowed to enjoy the scenery more than usual while searching for the fish. We weren’t allowed to actually catch the lionfish ourselves as that requires a license, so we had to holler at the staff whenever we spotted one and watch as they worked together to corner them. The lionfish themselves are really beautiful fish, so you just have to remind yourself that they are tearing apart the environment when you watch them being euthanized. As for obtaining a license, the center director, John, told me it’s a simple process of filling out a form. No classes, no field practice. That struck me as a little odd as it seems no more than a formality, but  I won’t complain too much because that means I can start catching lionfish sooner rather than later.

My flight left at 5 p.m. on Wednesday and I couldn’t be happier to be back in civilization for a few days; although after studying the effects of tourism on the local society and environment, it’s a little bittersweet at the same time. While the Royal West Indies Resort where a lot of us are staying is fantastic and it’s nice to be able to shower every day in hot water, a lot of us can’t help but feel a little guilty about how much harm all of the developments here are having on the ecosystems. A few of the students who have been snorkeling have noticed how there is hardly any seagrass anywhere along the beach due to the dredging by the hotels, and how a lot of the tourists here are amazed just to see one or two fish on their snorkels. Compared to the undeveloped (for now) South Caicos where the fish are still abundant and coral is everywhere, it’s a glimpse into the future of what that island could potentially be like.

But, I did say I was glad to be back in civilization for a few days, and that could not be more true! I am staying with four other people in a suite that has a kitchen, a living area, two bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a balcony on the ground floor that is 10 feet away from the hot tub and pool. Did I mention that we have a television??? This trip could not have come at a better time for me, because now I can keep up with all of the tournament games and was even able to watch the Purdue game yesterday! Boiler up! Provo is really amazing with tons of shops, diners, bars, and casinos; but aside from the bars I haven’t really experienced any of it because I have been completely reveling in the fact that I can sleep in as late as I want and lay around and watch basketball all day. It has been glorious. They keep us constantly busy at the center with school and field work, so I am in no hurry to rush around all day to try and see everything that is here. Sometimes, you just have to enjoy the little things.

I did go to the grocery store yesterday, however, which was a little bit of a shock. I think I experienced for the first time what it’s like to have reverse culture shock, which makes me wonder how weird it’s going to be to finally come back to the states in May. In South Caicos most of the stores feature three or four aisles with a pretty limited selection of the essentials, while the store we went to yesterday was like walking into a Marsh supermarket. It’s really the first time I’ve noticed just how much stuff we have to choose from in the states, though the prices here are pretty outrageous. 8 bucks for a box of Lucky Charms!

The only real downfall about this trip? I forgot my camera! It’s a bummer, but I’m making sure everyone else is taking a ton of pictures, and hopefuly I can post a few of those at some point.

Until next time, Boiler up! Beat A&M!


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